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Nov 1, 2018

M.O.E. Says Students Stand to Lose the Most from B.N.T.U.’s National Demonstration

B.N.T.U. branch presidents returned to their respective districts following Wednesday’s announcement that come November seventh, there will be a national demonstration in the nation’s capital. Today, students were sent home at midday as teachers discussed logistics leading up to next Wednesday’s protest.  The union and the ministry are at loggerheads again; this time over Proposal Twenty-Two as it relates to pension and service benefits for all teachers as well as the re-categorization of hardship schools. As the day of protest approaches, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Education, Deborah Domingo says the students are the ones who will lose a day of school. Domingo confirms that while there was a commitment by the minister to address several matters under proposal twenty-two; the ministry was resolute in pushing for schools managements to pay the thirty percent for pensions and service benefits. For context, here is what the Minister of Education said on Monday that has triggered the protest.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“It is general perception in the public that proposal twenty-two as it has to do with the benefits for pension and gratuity for those denominational and community schools is not on the table as the prime minister said. So when it was that President Elena was talking about a meeting with the Minister of Education to continue to talk about proposal twenty-two; it is not proposal twenty-two in its entirety so the matter of pension and gratuity or that thirty percent is not yet alive to make that absolutely clear. The portion that is alive has to do with four community schools that are to determine whether they want to be under full government proprietorship or they wish to continue as community schools. Those are the only issues that are still alive under the current collective bargaining agreement negotiations. It is that single issue; that single portion of proposal twenty-two that keeps the collective bargaining negotiations alive; that is in excess now of ten years going on.”

 

Deborah Domingo

Deborah Domingo, C.E.O., Ministry of Education

“You know one of the fortunate things about these meetings, they are recorded. And so it is an easy playback for verification. As far as I know, the joint staff relation council met in September and there were several agreements in terms of the way forward which included continued dialogue between the Ministry of Education and the B.N.T.U. on several matters under proposal twenty-two. There was a commitment expressed by the minister to engage B.N.T.U. to come to a resolution with some of the things that may have been outstanding. Those include the government’s offer to adopt the secondary community schools pending feedback from those schools and their stakeholders with regards to their desire to be so adopted to become government-managed entities. And so that is where we were. There was also a commitment shared by the minister in that meeting to work along with all the stakeholders to get the managing authorities to pay the thirty percent of pensionable benefits that for many grant-aided institutions are not being paid. So there was commitment on the part of the government side to push managements to meet the other thirty percent given that if you are retiring from a grant-aided institution, particularly at the secondary level, most people walk away with only seventy percent of their gratuity benefits and their pension.”
Domingo says that there was a case at the Supreme Court where a teacher at a denominational secondary school was challenging the matter of pensions and services benefits.  That ruling would have set the precedence for whether the ministry would have been legally obligated to pay in full. The case, however, was abandoned.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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